The cost of magic has never been clearer.
Echo of the Evercry
by E.J. Dawson
Genre: Epic Fantasy
The cost of magic has never been clearer.
Larissa’s inability to kill is a disgrace to her absent mother, Sword Matriarch of the Fair Lady’s order, a sisterhood whose purpose is to hunt down sorcerers corrupted by the Evercry and slay them. But Larissa hides an even more sinful secret: she is drawn toward magic, and it grows stronger in her every day.
Larissa keeps a stranglehold on her gift until the day of her graduation test, when her misuse of magic leads her to failure. Prepared to be cast out of the sisterhood, she is instead brought into the scorned caste of the darkkins, those who study and wield magic in the fight against the Evercry. In their halls she discovers that her proclivity for magic makes her powerful, and a little dangerous.
Gone for years, her mother suddenly sends word that she needs help to defeat a formidable sorcerer, help only Larissa can give. Larissa will do anything to save her mother, even travel with the girl who bullied her all through school. But as they battle monsters and mercenaries, Larissa must grapple with dark truths about the sisterhood and her heritage, and decide who she can really trust with her mother’s fate…and her own.
A prickle over her skin, the rush of air her only warning. She snatched the book above her head just as a splash of water spilled over her lap. Harmless enough to her cotton underthings and armored leather, it would have spelled destruction for the book. As it was, raindrop kisses laved their spatter marks across the pages.
“Careful there, bookkeeper.”
She ignored the taunt and brushed aside the water droplets.
“I don’t know why you’re bothering,” the voice continued. “The time for ink scribbling is over. You may be first in all other classes, but you will always be last in the one that counts.”
Larissa’s cheeks warmed, her hands perspiring. She’d spent years not retaliating to the barbs, ignoring pettiness and rivalry, but on this last day, she couldn’t contain her scorn. Valare’s taunting would not
go unanswered, not if Larissa had a chance to bite back before they parted ways forever. She rose from her seat, book in hand. Better than a blade, because to her it was an equal weapon to the broadsword across Valare’s back. “I’ve never been able to tell, Valare, what it is you’re angrier about.”
A susurrus rippled through the long low room, a sudden pause, as though a stray dog had done an interesting trick.
Larissa flinched at Valare’s ridicule She tossed thin blonde braids over her back and glared in defiance at the other acolyte. Hands on her hips, Valare stood bedecked in her accustomed fighting garb, cream armor that marked her family lineage. Her mother was Atticus, defender of the realm, matriarch of shields.
Valare’s armor glinted near gold in the low flickering torchlight, extra polished for the momentous occasion of the Empirical.
Her tawny, sun-tanned skin gleamed, thick muscles evidence of her training. Hair black as a raven’s wing shorn short, her dark eyes narrowed on Larissa in condescending amusement. “Go on now, lamb-tongued one. Let’s see what you’ll bleat for me.”
Valare’s companions grinned at one another, enjoying the culmination of a years-long rivalry. All knew the cause. Larissa should be strong like Valare, like her mother, and she was…not.
The only similarities between she and her mother were the same caramel hue in their eyes, the same blonde hair. But Larissa lacked a knight’s stature, held softness at her waist and hips from hours spent
reading when she slipped away from training. It made her armor pinch, and she avoided it whenever possible.
In short, Larissa was soft, hesitant, girlish. She’d spent six years dodging either Valare’s viper tongue or not-so-subtle attacks. They were meant to be a match, one a shield, the other a sword, just like
their mothers. Only the flaws of Larissa’s character intervened.
Valare was as easy to violence as blood to a blade, but Larissa cowered every time. Conflict churned her stomach, sent tremors through her hands. Years of training gradually steadied them but could not take away Larissa’s revulsion. Much to Valare’s disgust and contempt.
Larissa’s face burned, but she squeezed the book, grounding herself in its worth. Valare would never understand the content within. Could never appreciate the delicate phrasing of dark magics.
Never taste knowledge from forgotten corridors of the world. Larissa did, and often, but kept it secret out of necessity. And while she wasn’t the warrior Valare was, she could fight with words.
“Is it because you’re afraid brawn won’t carry you to victory?” She tilted her head, glaring up at Valare. “Or is it because you’re so dreadful at everything else that without knighthood you hold no
“Oh, I see.” Valare stroked her chin in faux contemplation. “You want me to beat you to a pulp before the Empirical, so you have a chance to…what? Cry foul?”
There were hisses among the throng, Valare’s words an insult to any of the Fair Lady’s acolytes. Especially to Larissa. Who had taken every beating Valare had ever given her, and not once given in.
Larissa hefted the book in her hand, teeth grinding as she readied to say something she’d regret.
Ejay writes scifi, fantasy, and horror, with a dash of the paranormal. She has two books with Literary Wanderlust, gothic noir Behind the Veil and all female cast fantasy Echo of the Evercry. She also has a nonfic story with Seaside Gothic, a dark paranormal with Grendel Press, and hopeful scifi with Savage Planets. She is devoted to writing and the community, as a mentor for Write Hive, Futurescapes Alum, a previous SPSFC judge, Flights of Fancy volunteer, in the Australian Writers Centre Write Your Novel Program, and studying a post-grad diploma in creative writing. When not writing she’s walking her rescue dogs, or becoming obsessed with a new computer game.